Small Business Saturday is a nationwide promotion started by American Express in 2010, and it encourages consumers to shop at local stores the day after Black Friday. Black Friday has become symbolic with the rush to the mall, so Small Business Saturday is a push for shoppers to spend their money locally.“It is a very important event. It really does make people understand that shopping locally makes a big difference,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.Not to be outdone by the malls, Ocean City has staged a number of special events this holiday season to draw visitors downtown. On Friday night, thousands of spectators lined the sidewalks for a lavish tree-lighting ceremony and an appearance by Santa Claus during the annual Christmas in the Downtown event.Katy Himes, owner of Kay Jay’s Doll Shoppe, said “It has been busy all weekend. Friday night we got a little break when the tree was lit at City Hall and Santa arrived, but soon after the customers were back. Saturday has been steady all day long.”Greg, Cathy, and Olivia Egnor enjoyed Small Business Saturday.Greg Egnor was shopping the Avenue with his wife and daughter. They were in from Pittsburgh, PA. Greg is originally from Atlantic City and graduated from Atlantic City High School and then Stockton University. They returned to the area for the holiday weekend so that Greg could attend his 30 year high school reunion.Most of the Ocean City shop owners mixed in some aggressive price-cutting with some old-fashioned personal touches (such as giving out complimentary cups of hot chocolate to their customers) to attract a continuous flow of shoppers.“It’s just a homier feel here. It’s not so corporate,” Jamie Keenan, manager of the 7th Street Surf Shop on Asbury Avenue, said of the atmosphere downtown. “It’s a small-town feel. It’s very family-oriented.”Jordan Valian From EHT and Michelle Hayes from Philadelphia did some holiday shopping at 7th Street Surf Shop .When asked what the big seller of the day was, 7th Street Surf Shop owner Becky Friedel said “The Yeti products are really popular. People love their quality and we have a huge variety to choose from. Additionally, we have some great deals on some of our hottest clothes.”We caught Michele Headley, Judy Turner, Monica Headley, and Sara Turner taking a break from their shopping experience. The four of them came in together from Egg Harbor Township to enjoy all the holiday fun.Ocean City’s downtown area is really dressed up for the holidays with green garland and big, red bows. Decorations hang high above Asbury Avenue and are draped on the Victorian-style lamp posts lining the sidewalks.Adding to the festive mood, Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, there are the free horse and carriage rides along Asbury Avenue from noon until 3:00 PM.Pictured below, Chuck Palermo took his family to Wards Pastry for a sweet energy boost before checking out all the specials. He said that he felt that it is import to spend his money locally to reward the great stores we have in town.Even the locals came out to support small businesses. Chuck, Annie, Chase Palermo, and Maxwell Spell shopped the Avenue with the help of some sweets from Wards Pastry.If you were not able to make it to Small Business Saturday, you owe it to yourself to catch some of the other upcoming events:There will be breakfast with Santa each weekend through December 23 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at Arlene’s on Asbury (624 Asbury Avenue, 609-399-3639). See oceancityvacation.com for full schedule.The Christmas Parade is December 1 at 6:00 p.m. on Asbury Avenue from Sixth Street to 11th Street. Register to participate at www.ocnj.us/christmas-parade. For more information, call 609-399-6111. Allison Lopes, from Swedesboro, came to Ocean City to shop small business Saturday and enjoy the festivities. She is staying with her in-laws Doris & Steve Lopes. She is pictured here with Katy Himes at Kay Jay’s Doll Shoppe.